Suffolk: Prison reform should have happened a long time ago, claims MP

Man jailed for attacking girlfriend

Man jailed for attacking girlfriend - Credit: PA

PRISONERS should be made to work for privileges inside “cushy” jails, an MP has claimed.

David Ruffley said he welcomed the announcement that inmates, including those in Suffolk’s Highpoint, would wear uniforms and claimed the reforms should have been made a long time ago.

But campaigners said the changes, proposed by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, would increase red tape and ratchet up costs while ignoring the serious issues of overcrowding.

Mr Ruffley, MP for Bury St Edmunds, said: “Under the new policy subscription channels will be removed from prisons. All newly convicted adult males will have to wear prison uniform. A longer working day will be introduced. Bad behaviour will lead to a downgrade in privileges.

“When I worked as a cabinet adviser at the Home Office 20 years ago I visited several prisons. Frankly, prisons were far too ‘cushy’. That is why I support the new reforms: they should have happened a long time ago.”

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He added: “Prisoners should be required to work, take part in education and accept opportunities to rehabilitate themselves. Prisons must become places of serious rehabilitation. By breaking the cycle of reoffending, our streets and communities will be safer.”

Frances Crook, of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the announcement amounted to ministers “pottering among the flowerbeds” while ignoring the burning building before them.

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He added: “The fact that the prison population has doubled in the past 20 years has left prisons overcrowded and staff overstretched, with little choice but to lock people up in their cells all day with nothing to do.

“There have been numerous inspectorate reports published recently which have found prisons struggling to offer any purposeful activity within their walls. As their budgets continue to be squeezed, this problem will only get worse.”

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